How VOCs Effect Your Indoor Air Quality

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What are VOCs

VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) refers to manufactured chemicals emitted from solid or liquid products in a gaseous state. 

Generally, inhalation is the most common exposure mechanism, which can cause long-term and short-term adverse health effects.

To have good air quality is not as simple as moving away from the city to a quiet suburb or rural environment to avoid the industrialized pollution of highly populated cities. 90% of our time is spent indoors, so even with pristine outdoor air, this doesn't necessarily mean the air we breathe indoors is of the same quality.

The EPA discovered through investigative research that these organic pollutants could be higher indoors, potentially ten times higher than outdoors, regardless of whether you live in rural, urban, or highly industrialized areas.

This prevalence is due to factors such as chemicals being found in thousands of products, many bought by consumers for in-home use, and the inability of VOCs to dissipate in enclosed spaces, which all contribute to poor indoor air quality. [1]

Everyday Household products that emit VOCs

A few common chemicals that you could be exposed to in your everyday life are benzene, formaldehyde, and toluene.

Many of these are derived from indoor home products that emit VOCs; a few are:

  • Paints
  • Building materials
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Printers & copiers
  • Adhesives
  • Glues
  • Permanent markers

Personal care products also fall into this category. Examples are:

  • Candles (wax)
  • Perfume
  • Hair spray
  • Cosmetics

Additionally, these products all have the potential to release organic compounds when stored or used as well. [3]

  • Fuels
  • Finished or burning wood
  • Cigarette smoke from tobacco 

Health effects caused by VOCs Exposure Indoors

Factors like chemical concentration, the type of chemical, and duration of exposure will influence the type and severity of symptoms a person will exhibit.

Some people have shown no symptoms from short-term exposure to VOCs, while others are more sensitive to chemicals, such as asthma populations.

It's important to remember that VOCs represent a large group of chemicals with different toxicity and the potential to cause various health effects. (2)

The possible symptoms of VOC exposure include:

Acute/Short term exposure (Hours Days)

  • Eye nose and throat irritation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness 
  • Allergic skin reaction

Chronic exposures (Years to a lifetime)

  • Cancer
  • Liver Kidney Damage
  • Central Nervous System Damage

Controlling the source of VOCs in your home

Be mindful of what kind of products you're purchasing, using, and keeping in your home. Reading product warning labels and following manufacturing directions is a safe and easy way to reduce exposure to organic pollutants.

Try to minimize the use of scented products like candles, incense, and plug-in aerosol deodorizers. When shopping, check labels for "containing low VOCs" before purchasing items for indoor use.

Purchase only what you need for home projects requiring paint and solvents so that you don't have to store these products after use.

Take inventory and safely dispense of old or unused products containing VOCs. To properly dispose of these items, contact your local municipality, city, and county for guidance.


Another great way to reduce exposure to VOC emitting products indoors is ventilating and creating adequate airflow. This can be done by simply opening windows and doors to allow fresh air in, which will significantly dilute the concentration of VOCs when using pollutant-emitting products in your home.

Be sure to check your outdoor air quality before ventilating. Some areas of the world experience heavy chemical and particle air pollution. which could be detrimental rather than beneficial for your indoor air quality. 

Install an Air Purifier

Even with ventilation and a reduction mindset, it still may seem daunting to truly achieve a home free of VOCs with so many different indoor products containing organic pollutants and their prevalence in modern society.

Adding the right kind of technology indoors is an excellent way to rid VOCs from your home.

Many different air purifiers on the market, but not all can inactivate and trap organic gas pollutants. When choosing one for your home, make sure that they have an activated carbon filter for removing VOCs. [4]

Activated Carbon Filter Technology?

The activated carbon filter is designed to absorb gaseous pollutants initially developed by the military to defend against chemical warfare.

Activated carbon technology functions by the chemical phenomenon of adsorption. Adsorption is defined as the adhesion of molecules, chemicals, or atoms from a gas to a solid surface.

This process makes a film from the adsorbate (VOCs) to the surface of the adsorbent (activated carbon). Once an area of the filter has adhered to a chemical, that same adsorption point is inactivated. Fortunately, activated carbon is highly porous.

On average, one gram of activated carbon has greater than 32,000 square meters of surface area, which is essential to arrest VOCs effectively from your home. [5]

Smart Air Pro

The largest air purifier in Smart UV's product line is the Smart Air Pro, an excellent addition to your home, incorporated with activated carbon technology. The Pro comes with a 16 inch tall and 12 inches wide activated carbon filter that contributes to the Smart Air Pros efficient regulation of air quality, resulting in cleaner air and eliminating any dangerous VOCs and chemical air pollutants accumulating indoors.

In addition to the carbon filter, the Pro comes with a 16 inch tall and 12 inches wide EPA filter, designed for removing larger particles such as dust, pollen, pet dander, and other types of particulate matter.

Paring these filter technologies together, the Smart Air Pro will bring you the crisp, clean air that you deserve while protecting your home from any harmful air pollutants.

This commercial-grade air purifier's best feature is its ability to remove hazardous chemicals in a variety of different settings.

The Smart Air Pro can cover 800 square feet in 1 hour, allowing for efficient air purification, whether it is used at the office, healthcare facilities, academic institutions, or large homes, regardless of an open house plan, large rooms, or high ceilings.

Smart Air

Another excellent air purifier for reducing VOCs is the Smart Air. The Smart Air is a small, compact and convenient mobile unit, perfect for all rooms in your home.

The Smart Air will provide:

  • Powerful filtration.
  • Covering 300 square feet to get the air quality you want without creating clutter.
  • Hassle.
  • Cramping your living space.

Both the Smart Air Pro and Smart Air use a three-stage filtration system, one being the activated carbon filter. To learn more about Smart UV's air purifiers, follow the link here SmartAir | Air Purifier for Small Rooms– Smart UV


[1] Volatile Organic Compounds' Impact on Indoor Air Quality | US EPA. (2020). Retrieved 30 December 2020, from 

[2] Volatile Organic Compounds' Impact on Indoor Air Quality | US EPA. (2020). Retrieved 30 December 2020, from 

[3] Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in Your Home - EH: Minnesota Department of Health. (2020). Retrieved 30 December 2020, from 

[4] Mondal, Sujon & Saha, Purna. (2019). Removal of VOCs and Improvement of Indoor Air Quality Using Activated Carbon Air Filter. 10.1007/978-981-15-5235-9_10. 

[5] Guide to Air Cleaners in The Home - US EPA (2021). Retrieved 19 February 2021